StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between



George W. Bush: Screwup-in-Chief, 2001-2008

19 Jul 2010
Posted by Bruce Bartlett

Over the weekend Republicans unveiled their brilliant new political strategy strategy: the George W. Bush years were the good old days and we should go back to them. A stupider strategy is hard to imagine. The Bush years were an unmitigated disaster. Here is a quick list of his screw-ups off the top of my head in no particular order. Readers are encouraged to add others in the comments.

Thinking that Iraqis would welcome liberation and immediately embrace Western-style democracy, and failing to manage the occupation of Iraq properly. (How can people defend Bush on the basis that he kept us safe after 9/11 without also blaming him for 9/11? If he had the power to keep us safe after 9/11 then why didn’t he keep us safe on 9/11?)

Bullying the intelligence community into giving him the justification to start a war in Iraq over non-existent WMDs.
 
Ramming through a massive new, unfunded Medicare drug benefit when the system was already broke.
 
Rushing to enact the hugely expensive Sarbanes-Oxley Act in reaction to the Enron scandal even though there was no evidence that it would have prevented it from happening.
 
The total failure to deal with Katrina.
 
Nominating the totally unqualified Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and appointing other nincompoops to high level positions solely on the basis of slavish loyalty.
 
Not vetoing anything until two years into his second term.
 
Thinking that tax rebates and tax credits stimulate growth and failing to make any of his tax cuts permanent.
 
Destroying the Doha round of trade negotiations by imposing steel tariffs and enacting a massive new agricultural subsidy program at its outset.  (The whole point of Doha was to reduce agricultural subsidies.)
 
Failing to name a new vice president in 2004 who would have been a viable Republican candidate for president in 2008.
 
Thinking that cooperating with Ted Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind Act was a good idea and believing in “compassionate conservatism.”  (Made ordinary conservatism look uncompassionate.)
 
Signing McCain-Feingold after promising to veto it during the 2000 election.
 
Neutering the Treasury secretary and failing to push for tougher oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thus contributing to the housing crash and economic crisis we have experienced for going on two years with no end in sight.
 
Addendum
 
Jesse Walker made a similar list 6 years ago. Menzie Chinn comments here.

 

Authorizing torture against

Authorizing torture against terror suspects both guilty and innocent.

Holding an American Citizen illegally in total sensory deprevation for multiple years, violating both our laws and the common decency of humanity.

Using extrodinary rendition to put terror suspects into the hands of foreign governments for "questioning" not only wrong in it's own right, but a stupid foreign policy action giving only tentatively friendly governments leverage against the U.S.

Failing to use our initial success in Iraq to bring about a wider Middle East peace plan when Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia were all ready to negotiate with Israel.

Intervening in the Terri Schivo case in violation of everything conservative government advocates are suppose to believe.

Requiring such fierce loyalty in your supporters, that dozens of more moderate pundits and potential office seekers have been forced out of the party. This set up the Democratic takeover of Congress since many moderate or democratic leaning districts had candidates running with such extreme right-wing views they had no chance of winning. Scott Brown's views would make him a Democrat in every state south of Maryland.

Reinforcing his image as a fool overseas by constantly acting like the cool Babe Ruth league coach instead of a world leader.


Investors got a lower capital

Investors got a lower capital gains tax rate, but the S&P 500 fell by 40% during Bush's term.(measured from the day Bush was elected to the day Obama was elected)

How many people think that is a good trade off?


Freddie/Fannie

Let's not forget W's penchant for snap judgments and rash decisions all compounded by his collossal stubborn streak. If he had the sense and intellect to transcend the moment, these personal failings could be forgiven. Judging by what transpired during his watch, I would say his inability to listen and adjust accordingly was a major liability.

If the GOP wants to run on the wonder years of the Bush era, we'll be more than happy to again be the recipient of America's "refudiation" of the GOP agenda.


Off the top of your head or

Off the top of your head or the other end??? It's OK to be opinionated until you present them as if they were facts. Sometimes you cause one to think; most of the time you should put a cork in it!


I published a book

in 2006 explaining why all these things are true facts. 


True Facts

Haven't read the book. Does it explain the difference between a fact and a true fact?


facts don't matter

That's all well and good, but those are policies. The Republican Party doesn't care about policy. Bush was "one of us," and that was enough. There has been no reckoning-- zero-- within the GOP for all of Bush's failures. They slipped neatly from "Bush is the right man/rebel in chief" to "Obama is a fascist Muslim" without the slightest hint of introspection.

Why would anyone expect anything but more of the same from the GOP?


We all know that facts have a

We all know that facts have a liberal bias anyway so they don't really matter


Median Household Income Stahnation

GWB's 8 years in office saw no economic improvement for the bulk of Americans. Median household income was stagnant, debt was up, and assets values crashing as he left office.

As a Liberal Democrat, I welcome this new, immaginative GOP electorial strategy. Let's talk it up!


Sadly,

I strongly suspect that the Republicans have poll data suggesting that this is a good political strategy. I say "sadly" because apparently a goodly number of people believe it. 


I listen to many (though

I listen to many (though their woefully in short supply) of talking heads on the left, who laugh and make fun of the dumbos on the right and how their shooting themselves in the foot for the crazy things they say and do. I find your just dead on the money about their political strategy. These people are not fools, everything they say and do is for political gain. Even though there on the outside all the moneys behind them. Watch out Dem's and are country, they don't believe in WE THE PEOPLE, they believe in I THE RICH AND POWERFUL OF THE UNITED STATES.


Allowing Cheney to run wild

Allowing Cheney to populate the Minerals Management Service with oil industry executives, leading to lax regulation and the Deepwater Horizon disaster.


Politicizing the Justice

Politicizing the Justice Department


"and failing to manage the occupation of Iraq properly."

Watch the documentary "No End in Sight" and you'll see "failing to manage the occupation of Iraq properly" could be broken down into dozens of mistakes that guaranteed anarchy in Iraq for a long time.

He also gets two big thumbs down on immigration. He would have got a lot of heat from his own party but it would have been a real accomplishment for him to hang his hat on in the history books.


Poll Data

Never bet against american ignorance.


Bush Blunders

Giving Dick Cheney and his Staff enough rope to hang us all.

Squandering international good will after 9/11 with arrogance and belligerence.

Squandering national unity after 9/11 with arrogance and belligerence.


Let's at least be slightly fair

Yeah, Bush was a moron, but look how much is being repeated by this current administration:

Thinking that Iraqis would welcome liberation and immediately embrace Western-style democracy, and failing to manage the occupation of Iraq properly. (How can people defend Bush on the basis that he kept us safe after 9/11 without also blaming him for 9/11? If he had the power to keep us safe after 9/11 then why didn’t he keep us safe on 9/11?)
Giant Bush failure, current admin isn't withdrawing though.

Bullying the intelligence community into giving him the justification to start a war in Iraq over non-existent WMDs.
This is inexcusable and he should be in a federal prison for it.

Ramming through a massive new, unfunded Medicare drug benefit when the system was already broke.
Current health care reform law that doesn't reform anything.

Rushing to enact the hugely expensive Sarbanes-Oxley Act in reaction to the Enron scandal even though there was no evidence that it would have prevented it from happening.
Fin Reg bill that the sponsor(!) says wouldn't have prevented the crisis from happening.

The total failure to deal with Katrina.
BP.

Nominating the totally unqualified Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and appointing other nincompoops to high level positions solely on the basis of slavish loyalty.
Geithner, Summers, etc.

Not vetoing anything until two years into his second term.
As opposed to not being able to pass anything with a super majority.

Thinking that tax rebates and tax credits stimulate growth and failing to make any of his tax cuts permanent.
Stimulus bill that simply creates a bigger structural deficit.

Destroying the Doha round of trade negotiations by imposing steel tariffs and enacting a massive new agricultural subsidy program at its outset. (The whole point of Doha was to reduce agricultural subsidies.)
Copenhagen.

Failing to name a new vice president in 2004 who would have been a viable Republican candidate for president in 2008.
Let's all be thankful for this. But the current president policies are just an extension of Bush anyway.

Thinking that cooperating with Ted Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind Act was a good idea and believing in “compassionate conservatism.” (Made ordinary conservatism look uncompassionate.)
So agreeing with Liberals is bad? I kid, but isn't this the kind of thing (despite the outcomes) we'd like to see more of?

Signing McCain-Feingold after promising to veto it during the 2000 election.
An example of changing his mind for the better and signing a bi-partisan bill is bad?

Neutering the Treasury secretary and failing to push for tougher oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thus contributing to the housing crash and economic crisis we have experienced for going on two years with no end in sight.
Extend and pretend by the current admin. Empowering the SecTreas to loot the American people to help out banker buddies.

Again, Bush was a gigantic moron, so how about we spend effort keeping the current administration from doing the exact same stuff? Let's get over all of Bush's 8million screwups and prevent the next round? Ok?


Running for a second term.

Running for a second term.


Tora Bora

Out-sourcing the Battle of Tora Bora to Afghan militia, very likely resulting in the escape of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leadership to Pakistan.


Let's not forget.....

"Bring it on."


Failures of Omission

Lets not forget all the problems George Bush ignored for 8 years.

-A broken and incredibly expensive health care system.
-A housing bubble and unregulated derivatives.
-Global warming and declining oil production
-Crumbling infrastructure.
-global nukes

And most importantly he managed to add $6 trillion dollars to the national Debt while ignoring all these problems, leaving us mired in two wars, and destroying the economy. The most prescient headline of all time was the Onion headline that proclaimed 'Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over' when Bush was elected.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/bush-our-long-national-nightmare-of-pea...


Some perspective on Sarbanes-Oxley...

Firstly, I fail to see the logic in characterizing Sarbanes-Oxley as a Bush screw-up. If memory serves, the bill passed with a grand total of three dissenting votes from the whole of the House and Senate. It was a bipartisan screw-up, resulting from the entirely predictable, bipartisan lurch towards populism that results from any such scandal. They're so busy falling all over themselves trying to claim the mantle of "protector of the little guy" that the actual details of the bill become an afterthought.

Which leads to directly to my second point...er, question, actually. If you take issue with the cost of the regulatory burden imposed by Sarb-Ox, you must be positively apoplectic over the sprawling FinReg bill just passed. Yes? And how many of those who voted in favor of it do you suppose actually read its 2,300 pages?


Leftist delusions

Tired of defending the disastrous policies of this Administration and this Congress, leftists have set up a straw man that "Republicans are trying to rehabilitate Bush."

Nothing could be further from the truth. A couple of Texas Republicans made ill-advised pro-Bush remarks on TV which were immediately disowned by party officials.

To some, this is apparently adequate evidence of a grand Republican plan. You really have to be a delusional leftist to think the GOP actually 1) thinks Bush's economic policy was good, or 2) thinks reminding people about Bush is good electoral strategy.

It's obvious to anyone with two firing brain cells that bringing up Bush distracts from the Obama/Pelosi/Reid debacle and has zero upside for Republicans.

It appears some people get a lot of their (mis)information from left-wing internet echo chambers like Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos, which are cackling with glee at the supposed Republican plan to rehabilitate Bush.

A little common sense would go a long way if you insist on reading those sites.


So, what you're saying is to

So, what you're saying is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.


Clearly, the Bush tax cuts...

were poorly designed to stimulate growth. I had hoped that Obama would use their expiration to reform the tax system and to replace the Bush tax cuts with others that would do a better job of stimulating growth. Unfortunately, it's much too late for that and it would be a bad idea to allow a large tax increase to take effect on January 1. At this point I don't think the votes exist to do more than simply continue the Bush tax cuts temporarily.


Sorry, Bruce. I was actually

Sorry, Bruce. I was actually responding (sarcastically) to W.C. Varones. Certainly, anyone interested in repudiating Bush's economic policies would be eager to allow his deficit financed, reconciliation-passed tax cuts to expire.

On the topic of tax reform, what is your opinion of the recommendations made by Bush's tax reform panel from a few years back?


the Bush disaster

Yes, a horrible President.

And you've only noted the half of it.


It's the Archie Bunker

It's the Archie Bunker strategy: "Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again . . . "

In other words, it's pure nostalgia for the time when we didn't yet know how bad things were going to get.




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